Leonardo DiCaprio in his mid-40s has already had a career spanning a quarter century. From a child star on Growing Pains, DiCaprio quickly became a young actor to watch in films like A Boy’s Life, Marvin’s Room, and then rocketed to one of the most famous people on the planet after the Titanic phenomenon. DiCaprio, very smartly, took a good break after Titanic to separate himself, and then started learning. He attached himself to directors, most notably Martin Scorcese, and started honing his craft. The thing about DiCaprio is: he gets better after every film. He takes something from it. He pushes himself. He’s always trying to add to his already formidable bag of tricks. While the projects he chooses don’t always pan out, it’s never because of a lack of effort from DiCaprio, and he’ll take things even from imperfect films and grow. Inception, The Revenant, Catch Me If You Can, Blood Diamond, The Departed, Shutter Island, The Wolf of Wall Street…..DiCaprio’s just getting warmed up, and I don’t think we’ve seen his best performance yet.
Continue reading Leonardo DiCaprio’s 10 Best Movies
When Alfred Hitchcock was gone, everyone asked who would be the next Hitchcock. When Steven Spielberg lost his touch, people began asking who was the next Spielberg. Christopher Nolan isn’t the next anything. In an age when cinema has become largely cookie cutter, Nolan has risen to become film’s best director, and in 40 years people will be asking who the next Nolan will be. Inception is, in my opinion, Nolan’s best film, and a film so original and yet filled with so many classic elements of different genres that Nolan was able to make his dense script a hook audiences were willing to push themselves to understand. Combined with dazzling visuals, an amazing ensemble, Wally Pfister’s cinematography masterpiece, and a score from Hans Zimmer for the ages and you have one of the best films of the 21st Century…..and the best part is the very last scene. Continue reading My Favorite Scene: Inception (2010) “Time”
Christopher Nolan is, to my mind, the best director working today, and the best of this generation. I’ve written before about the power of his ending scenes, but today WatchMojo has put together a pretty solid pre-Dunkirk list of the best scenes from Nolan’s first nine films. There’s no word yet on what the next project from the genius will be, but most directors go through their whole careers without putting together a series of moments that Nolan has in his first 10 features. What’s criminal is that he’s never even been nominated for a Best Director Oscar, something that hopefully the Academy rectifies when nominations are announced for the 2018 Oscars tomorrow morning.
Last week, we took an in-depth look at Inception (click here to read), one of my favorite films of all-time, and timely since Inception’s director, Christopher Nolan, just turned in the best movie I’ve seen this year thus far in Dunkirk. In my article, I mentioned Nolan’s preference for doing any kind of F/X practically rather than with CGI if it can be humanly done (even when it’s flipping a tractor trailer in The Dark Knight). CineFix, who should be paying me to hype them at this point, doesn’t just make great movie lists, it also has a feature called “The Art of the Scene” where they dissect an amazing scene, show you how it was done and why it works in the film. I almost included this behind-the-scenes piece in my article, but it’s a fascinating look at the rotating hallway fight from Inception. Whereas most directors would have inserted the actors into a CGI environment, Nolan went a very different route. It’s a fascinating look at an amazing scene.
This fight uses no CGI other than to remove the wires Joseph Gordon Levitt and the other actors are wearing. A full-scale hallway was built and then put on a giant gimbal which rotated the room. The fight takes place in a critical moment in the final job, when the van that’s carrying the team around has gone off a bridge, creating a zero-G effect that ripples down the various levels of the dreamworld you see in the map. For Arthur (Levitt), who is in the shallowest level, he loses gravity entirely and the result is an amazing fight scene, made all the more amazing when you know how Nolan and Pfister shot it.
Charlize Theron is the queen of action right now in Hollywood, which isn’t a bad title to attain after 20 years playing mostly deeply serious character roles. Theron, who is originally from South Africa, doesn’t have as deep a resume as some of the actresses from her generation, but it’s not lack of talent that prevents her, more a tendency to take on misguided “message” projects that fall flat. Additionally, if you look for Monster among her 10 Best, you won’t find it as it is one of the few films in my life I’ve walked out of because I found it so deeply unpleasant. Doesn’t mean that she wasn’t outstanding in her acting; just means that there’s only so much hooker/serial killer I can take (and from the eventual director of Wonder Woman….who knew?). She’s on a serious career upswing in the wake of stealing Mad Max: Fury Road (where’s our Furiosa spin-off?) and re-establishing her action dominance in Atomic Blonde. She looks 20 years younger than her actual age, and can beat you up, so it’s unlikely this actress is going to fall prey to the gender wall that eats so many careers. I’d like to see her do more comedy though. She has great timing, and that’s something you can’t teach.
Continue reading Charlize Theron’s 10 Best Movies